The winner of the 26th CBI Book of the Year Award was revealed today at a ceremony held in Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin. Recipients of the Children’s Choice Award, Honour Awards for Fiction and Illustration, Eilís Dillon award for a first children’s book and the Judges’ Special Award were also revealed.
Author Sarah Crossan has won the 26th CBI Book of the Year Award and is the fourth author ever to win both the Book of the Year Award and the Children’s Choice award for her title One. A novel as unique as its title suggests, One chronicles the story of Grace and Tippi, conjoined twins under constant medical and psychological care. At age sixteen when they can no longer afford to be homeschooled, they have to go to school for the first time and negotiate a world of prejudice, friendship, first love and gossip. The judges said ‘Crossan’s signature blend of lyricism and realism addresses complicated dynamics of family, identity, sisterhood and difference. Told in verse and in the first person, this elegant, sensitive story will stimulate reflections and conversations about discrimination, diversity, difficult choices and the bonds of love.’
During the ceremony students from King’s Hospital School Palmerstown and St Brigid’s National School Glasnevin presented Sarah with the Children’s Choice Award. Voted for by young readers from across the country, this award winner is chosen by shadowing groups who read and judged the nine shortlisted titles and voted for their favourite. This year the shadowing scheme was kindly supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and UNESCO Dublin City of Literature.
The CBI Book of the Year Awards judging panel also made awards to the following:
· Honour Award for Illustration: Lauren O’Neill for Gulliver. The judges said, ‘This beautifully illustrated, dynamic retelling skilfully meets the challenge of bringing this beloved classic novel to a new generation. Mary Webb’s accessible, carefully-pitched text about Gulliver’s time with the Lilliputians (in which he is perceived as a giant) and his stay with the Brobdingna (where the people are giants compared to him) interweaves with Lauren O’Neill’s captivating, immersive illustrations. The red ribbon for marking page position evokes a continuity of literary heritage while Webb and O’Neill skilfully capture the original tale’s humour and satire. An engaging read- aloud for junior classes and a valuable book for readers about the futility of war and the importance of respecting different perspectives.’
· Honour Award for Fiction: Louise O’Neill for Asking For It. The judges said, ‘Reading Asking For It is a harrowing, intense and thought-provoking experience. O’Neill skillfully draws the reader into the world of privileged teenage queen bee, Emma, and then ruptures both Emma’s and the reader’s complacency by exposing the violence, misogyny and hypocrisies shrouding the idyllic facade of her Irish town and the wider world. This is an important novel for twenty-first century Irish Young Adult literature and for youth culture in Ireland. Examining issues of consent, victim blaming and rape culture, O’Neill’s scalding exploration of sexism, scapegoating, sexual assault and the ethics of using and abusing social media offers immense crossover appeal for young adults and adults alike.’
· Judges’ Special Award: John and Fatti (Kathi) Burke for Irelandopedia. The judges said, ‘Irelandopedia is an exciting and vibrant compendium of facts, figures and fascinating findings about our little Emerald Isle. From the most southerly point in Cork to the most northerly point in Donegal, follow a tour of the best sights and sounds Ireland has to offer. Take a tour of all 32 counties and meet some interesting characters along the way, ranging from local celebrities to world famous musicians and athletes. Learn about the local delicacies and traditions each county has to offer. Find out about the flora and fauna that grace our small Island and learn about the intriguing historical figures that have shaped our country.’
· Eilís Dillon Award for a first children’s book: John and Fatti (Kathi) Burke for Irelandopedia. The judges said, ‘This ‘compendium of maps, facts and knowledge’ about Ireland and Irish life by father and daughter team, John Burke and Fatti Burke, has infectious appeal for all the family. Each county’s doublespread is vividly evoked with witty and detailed illustrations which work perfectly in counterpart with the accessible, engaging text and an endless treasure trove of facts. This absorbing book will immerse even the most reluctant reader and will spark curiosity, pleasure and pride about local environments, history, culture and the richness of modern and ancient Ireland.’
The CBI Book of the Year Awards are the leading children’s book awards in Ireland. The Awards are a celebration of excellence in children’s literature and illustration and are open to books written in English or Irish by authors and illustrators born or resident in Ireland and published between 1st January and 31st December each year. Previous winners include John Boyne for The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas; Sheena Wilkinson for Grounded, Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick for There and Hagwitch and Oliver Jeffers for Once upon an Alphabet.
Patricia Kennon, chair of the judging panel, said, ‘It was an honour to spend some of 2015 and 2016 reading almost 90 award entries with our incredibly dedicated and hardworking judging panel. The books being celebrated today highlight the excellence that children both at home and abroad can expect from books created by Irish authors and illustrators. We are exceptionally lucky to be able to enjoy the skills and talents of a diverse groups of Irish authors and illustrators writing for children.’
Jenny Murray, Acting Director of CBI, said ‘The Children’s Books Ireland Awards are the most unique children’s book awards in the country, allowing us not only to honour the very best in Irish writing, illustration and publishing, but to give young people a voice through the Children’s Choice Award. We were delighted to see a large increase in the number of young readers taking part in our shadowing scheme this year and enjoying the books on this year’s shortlist, across genre and age group.’